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The Delhi High Court today held a farewell ceremony to bid adieu to Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, who is set to retire on June 6.
The reference was attended by judges of the Delhi High Court, several Senior Advocates, officer bearers of the Delhi High Court Bar Association, as well as many young members of the Bar.
Justice Mohammed Fahim Anwar of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and Senior Advocate Fali S Nariman were also in attendance.
” I am deeply touched and overwhelmed..not sure whether I am entitled to all the love and praise showered upon me“, Justice Rajendra Menon stated at the outset.
Recollecting his short tenure of ten months at the Delhi High Court, Justice Menon remarked that this period was “one of the best and happiest” time that he spent on the Bench.
Justice Menon further added that the Delhi High Court’s infrastructure, quality of litigation, and legal acumen of the Bar makes it one of the best High Courts in the country.
He also acknowledged that he formed an invincible bond with all the High Courts that he had worked with, and demitting office after so many years of service was painful.
“I received the same love and affection from all three High Courts”, he said.
Justice Menon took the opportunity to remind everyone that the Bar and the Bench owed a responsibility to the citizens and were bound to deliver justice to the last man in the queue. He also raised concern at the high rate of pendency on cases before courts.
“It is time to ponder over the docket explosion ..and how to tackle it“, he stated.
Justice Menon also expressed his gratitude towards his fellow judges and his court officials and staff for their continued support.
Justice Menon further added,
“I might have been harsh to few…at some time. It was never intentional. It was either in the moment or a call of duty. I seek pardon…“
Justice Menon concluded his address by quoting from Senior Advocate Fali S Nariman’s book, ‘God Save the Supreme Court’.
“However old you be or however old you get, may you always have the vigour and enthusiasm of youth to appreciate the enormity and magnificence of the law and a will to unveil the mystery and mistakes in the law.“
Speaking at the reference, Justice GS Sistani said that in his tenure of ten months, Justice Menon bowled everyone over through his simplicity. Justice Sistani praised Justice Menon for his quick and strong decision making, lack of ego and commitment to hard work.
Justice Sistani also recollected Justice Menon’s first day in the High Court, when he clarified to a litigant that he would not entertain private grievances clocked as public interest litigation, thus reducing frivolous petitions.
“Treat Delhi High Court as your home. You will always be welcome“, Justice Sistani said as he bid farewell to Justice Menon.
Newly elected DHCBA President, Senior Advocate Mohit Mathur also praised Justice Menon stating that his strict and fair standard with respect to PILs, fairness, and patience enhanced one’s trust in the system.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya, Delhi Government Standing Counsel Ramesh Singh, and Bar Council of Delhi Chairman KC Mittal also spoke at the Reference.
Justice Rajendra Menon was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court on August 9, 2018. He was elevated as an additional judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on April 1, 2002, and became a permanent judge on March 21, 2003. Justice Menon also served as Welfare Commissioner for the Bhopal Gas Victims Compensation Commission between December 2010 and March 2015.
He was elevated as Chief Justice of the Patna High Court on March 15, 2017, and remained at the post till his transfer to the Delhi High Court.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court Collegium had initially decided to recommended Justice Menon along with Justice Pradeep Nandrajog for elevation to the Supreme Court. This was on December 12, 2018.
However, in an unexpected turn of events, when the Collegium met in January 2019 after the winter Break, a Resolution passed on January 10, 2019 featured only the names of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna for elevation to the Supreme Court.
It was stated in the Resolution of January 10, 2019 that the Collegium had taken certain decisions in December 2018 regarding elevations but the consultations on the same could not be completed. The Supreme Court was closed for winter break during which period the Collegium underwent a change on account of retirement of Justice Madan B Lokur on December 31, 2018. When the new composition of the Collegium met in the first week of January 2019, it was decided to recommend Justices Maheshwari and Khanna after considering all the aspects, including seniority.
This apparent supersession in elevation had even led to a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, reportedly writing a letter to CJI Gogoi expressing his views against the Collegium’s decision to reconsider Justice Nandrajog.
Subsequently, Bar Council of Delhi also wrote to the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and other members of the Supreme Court Collegium requesting the Collegium to elevate Justices Rajendra Menon and Pradeep Nandrajog to Supreme Court.
However, the efforts proved futile.
Justice DN Patel will replace Justice Menon as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.